I don't regularly read any of the Spider-Man comics, although like most comic-readers who like superheroes, I've done my fair share of sampling of the good ol' webslinger over the years. But Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira working on a new comic that for all intents and purposes is a new version of "Spider-Man Team-Up" was just too much to resist.
So far? It's a fun enough book. The story from Wells seems awfully simple, as if it's trying to step back and let the readers focus primarily on the art. That's not to say that story is non-existent, though. J. Jonah Jameson's interactions with the Mole Man and Ra'ktar are funny, with a snap to the dialogue that keeps the scene lively. Wells is also good with getting just the right mixture of humor and drama in Spider-Man's lines; he's got a strong handle of knowing when he'd be cracking wise versus taking things a bit more seriously.
But as mentioned before, the plot itself is rather slim. The second half of the book is so obvious that I defy you to find a reader who didn't see that particular fight coming, or its overall conclusion. I'm not saying that the plots need to be overly and confusingly complex, but there's such a level of simplicity here that it almost forces the reader to try and pull additional enjoyment out of the art to make up for the thinness in the writing.
Madureira's art, long-absent from comics, is pleasant. He's good with the big, flashy moments, like the monstrous creature that kidnapped Spider-Man and the Red Hulk at the end of the last issue. It's creepy looking and dangerous, and the opening sequence with it oozing up to the Moloids is a great image. But it's also nice to be reminded here that Madureira can draw some great character portraits. The defiant, in-your-face look of Jameson as he faces down Ra'ktar is fantastic; that determined set of his jaw, the mustache just-so over his pursed lips, and the wrinkles around his eyes as he half-squints at Ra'ktar all sell the scene in such a way that no dialogue or narration is necessary. "Avenging Spider-Man" is a good reminder on why Madureira rose to such prominence in the comics industry within a short period of time; he's got talent.
"Avenging Spider-Man" #2 is nice, but it's also the sort of comic that you'll read at a rather rapid pace. It has some beautiful art, but I wish that Wells had stepped up the plotting to go with it. Wells has shown on other books that he's capable of long-term, fuller plotting; hopefully we can get some here before long. At $3.99 an issue, pretty art or not, I'd like a story that's a little more substantial.